It’s a new year, so there’s no better time than now for the Rhode Island Rams basketball team to improve their play? Rhody is back in action tomorrow night when they face in-state rival Brown in Providence. Unfortunately, 2014 hasn’t brought better luck for URI. From College ChalkTalk’s Chris DiSano:
The hits keep coming – the Rams are now down to just eight scholarship players for the time being. So it goes without saying that tomorrow night’s game won’t be easy. But it’s winnable. Here’s what needs to happen.
1.Stay Tough on the Glass
With the loss of Reischel, Rhody will have just three active players taller than 6’5″ tomorrow evening. The fact that Brown is 16th in the nation in rebounding only compounds matters. The Bears are averaging 41.5 boards per game on the season, and they’ve out-rebounded their opponents in seven of their 11 games on the year. Given those numbers, the odds are pretty well stacked against the Rams winning the battle on the glass. But they’re going to have to keep the rebounding margin close if they’re going to have a chance of winning.
2. Contain McGonagill
Brown’s undisputed star player is 6’1″ guard Sean McGonagill. The senior leads the team with an 18.6 points-per-game average, and he’s reached double-figures in every game of the season thus far. McGonagill has also increased his scoring average every year in his career, so he’s not exactly slowing down. Biggie Minnis, Xavier Munford, and T.J. Buchanan have their work cut out for them as they try to contain Brown’s best player.
3. Limit Front Court Foul Trouble
This one’s kind of a no-brainer. With Biruta, Onyekaba, and Martin as Rhody’s only three forwards/centers, the Rams don’t really have a choice. The player to keep an eye on is Onyekaba, who seems to be URI’s poster boy for foul trouble. With Brown’s rebounding abilities, Dan Hurley will likely not elect to go small for very long. Let’s hope his players don’t force his hand.
4. Generate Turnovers
The Bears are coming off a loss to Niagara in which they committed a jaw-dropping twenty five turnovers. Given Rhody’s depth issues, pressing may not be ideal. But the Rams will need to do something to force some miscues and get out in transition. If they can do that, it will go a long way towards masking their issues inside.
5. Capitalize Against a Team in a Slump
Brown may be 6-5, but they’re in the midst of a three-game losing streak. It hasn’t exactly been a bunch of ugly losses (all three by single digits), but bad streaks can certainly weigh on a team’s mind. URI obviously has a few issues of their own, but if they can find a way to jump out on top of the Bears, it could send them reeling a bit.
One thing is for sure: this won’t be the typical URI/Brown cakewalk that Rhody fans have come to expect. The Bears are a good team this season, so Rhode Island will need to play some of their best basketball tomorrow to pick up a win. Can they do it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.